I Promise You
It was the day before the wedding and Olivia and Elliot managed to get through the past six weeks of planning without strangling Casey and Lizzie. Maureen helped with the planning as well but was still feeling pretty sick with the twins. They decided to get married at Bernie's beach house which didn't sit right with Elliot at first but he warmed up to it eventually. His relationship with her had been touch and go but she managed to be there for him before and after Kathleen's death. Her house was one of the places he stayed while she was in the hospital and after she died when he was at rock bottom he spent some time there too. He eventually confessed to Olivia that was why he didn't want to have the wedding at the beach house because it was synonymous with so many bad memories for him. She reminded him that this was his chance to turn a negative into a positive just as he had done with Kathleen's birthday.
He and Noah watched from the kitchen at all of the chaos surrounding them as the women in their lives ran around like crazy. The living room was filled with their tuxes, boxes of things he didn't know what they were and some stuff that he assumed was decorations and wedding favors. There were people in and out all day, the phone was ringing off the hook and he was expecting Olivia to be stressed out but she was keeping it all together. Her bump was more pronounced now and he enjoyed rubbing it when they were in bed together at night and talking to the baby to Olivia's delight.
She had another set of tests done the day before and another ultrasound. Her placenta was beginning to correct itself, which was a good sign, and they agreed to find out the sex of the baby on one condition. Olivia had the tech put the gender in an envelope and they would open it at the wedding reception. The pregnancy seemed to be going normal and Elliot couldn't have been more relieved.
"Dad did you pick up the rings?" Maureen asked.
"Yes I picked them up yesterday after Liv's appointment. My duty is done," he said smugly.
"Oh yeah so much you've accomplished. Lizzie, Casey, Lucy and I have done most of the work!" she shot back teasingly.
"Well in my defense, I did tell you it would be like this. I have no interest in looking at flowers and dresses. Just showing up and kissing the bride."
With Noah in his arms he went over to the living room and pulled his oldest daughter into a hug.
"Hey, what's that for?" she said returning the hug.
"I love you Mo and thank you for doing all of this. I don't know if your mom is ok with all of it and I don't even want to know but just thank you. I know if it wasn't for you and your sister we wouldn't even be pulling this off."
"I love you too dad. It's all worth it to see the smile on your face these past months," she said kissing him on the cheek. "And for the record, mom is ok with it."
"Is she coming to the wedding? I told her Liv was fine with her coming."
Maureen's facial expression showed him all he needed to know.
"I get it. It probably would've been weird anyway."
"Totally," she agreed rolling her eyes and grabbing her phone that was ringing…again.
From the dialogue he could tell it was Lizzie making even more preparations.
Noah began to squirm in his arm and he decided to make them both some lunch. Olivia was supposed to be off but got called in to wrap up something so it was just him and Noah in the middle of Wedding Central.
There was another knock on the door and it was Lucy whose hands were so full with boxes that she couldn't use her key.
"Hey Elliot, hey Noah," she said setting the boxes down on the coffee table.
"Do you need any help with anything?" he offered.
"No we are good."
She went back off to chat with Maureen and they called Casey to discuss who would be heading off to the beach house first to begin setting up and getting everything ready.
His phone went off signaling he had a text message. He set Noah down in his high chair to check the message and bring his food to him.
Are you hanging in there? You haven't choked one of the children yet have you?
He smiled at her amusement at his current situation.
Not yet. Right now the only Stabler child that is not driving me crazy is the one you are carrying. When will you be home? Don't make me stay in this circus all by myself.
Oh poor you. Suffering in silence. Don't worry. I'll be home soon.
Ok. I love you.
I love you too…oh and I can't wait to be your wife.
Elliot smiled to himself at her text. It was actually going to happen. It was finally going to happen. It all seemed too good to be true.
Lizzie had now joined the commotion to pick up some packages and announce that her and Casey was on their way to the beach house for the night to drop everything off and start preparing for tomorrow. Bernie insisted on doing a lot of the cooking for the reception but there was still some food that would be catered and Alex was in charge of coordinating that. Melinda got stuck coordinating all of the travel arrangements for everyone including Eric and Chelsea who insisted on driving down for the wedding. Chelsea was in her third trimester and couldn't fly but wanted to be there for Elliot and Olivia. This would be their first time seeing each other since Olivia was pregnant and she couldn't wait to see her.
"Where the heck is your stupid boyfriend?" Lizzie asked Lucy. "He was supposed to be here with the shoes for dad and Noah."
"Relax Liz, he's on his way. He just texted me and said he was like ten minutes away."
"Ok, so far I think everything is under control," Lizzie said to herself.
"Liz, come here for a sec," Elliot called from the table where he was finishing up his lunch.
"What's up dad?" she asked hurriedly.
"Come here, sit down and take a breath," he coaxed. Noah was in his lap and was watching Liz with the same look of concern that he was.
"Dad there is too much to do I don't have time to—"
"Liz. Sit. Down," he said more stern.
"Here." He pushed the rest of his sandwich towards her. "When's the last time you ate?"
"I had a cup of coffee for breakfast." She eyed the sandwich apprehensively at first but quickly dug in.
"You've got to calm down and eat and take care of yourself. We don't need you passing out at the altar."
"You're right. I just have to take deep breaths." She steadied her hands on the table and took deep breaths in a dramatic fashion that caused Noah to start laughing.
"I think your sister is losing it bud," Elliot whispered in the baby's ear.
"Everything just has to be perfect," she continued. "I want you and Olivia's day to be perfect."
"Honey it's going to be perfect. No matter if the flowers don't get delivered or the food tastes terrible it will still be perfect," he assured her.
"Wait did you hear something happened with the flowers because the last time I called them they said-," she panicked and he put his hands over hers to stop her.
"It was an example honey. Tomorrow will be perfect because I am marrying the woman I love, this little guy here," he said tickling Noah's little belly "will officially become a Stabler and all of my crazy kids will be there. So don't sweat the details, ok?"
"Ok youre right. I love you old man," she said standing up to kiss his cheek.
"Hey, who you calling old?"
"You. Although you will be the oldest person I know with a newborn and a toddler so maybe that does shave off a few years," she joked.
"Well gee thanks."
"Hey little guy let me give you a little advice," she said to Noah, "he may seem tough as nails especially when he hits you with that patented Stabler stare but inside he's just a big ole softie." She gave Elliot a little wink and went right back to drill sergeant mode.
An hour later she was on her way out and Dickie came in.
"I'm glad you finally decided to join us. What took you so long?"
"Shut up Liz, I had an offer for a house that I had to wrap up." His annoyance swiftly faded when he went over to Lucy and gave her a kiss.
"Ugh," Lizzie and Maureen said in unison.
"Ok everyone attention!" Lizzie called out. "I am getting ready to head out. Lucy, you and Dick brain will drive out later this evening and stay with us at Grandma's. Maureen and Jason are leaving first thing in the morning along with Dad, Noah and Olivia who insist on seeing each other before the wedding even though it's bad luck."
"They kind of have to see each other anyway for Noah's adoption hearing genius," Dickie teased.
"Anyway. Speaking of, Noah's ceremony will be at noon with some appetizers and champagne right after. I have something special for him to wear at both which I will bring with me tonight so you guys don't have to worry about that. I also have clothes for you and Olivia. There will be some time for everyone to go back to the hotel and unwind for a bit or spend a little time on the Jersey shore but everyone needs to be dressed and ready at 4:30pm because the wedding starts at 5pm. Dad you and the boys will be getting dressed at the hotel. The ladies need Grandma's house and under no circumstances will you see Olivia in her dress before she comes down the aisle. Understood?"
"Sir yes sir," he said giving her a salute.
"Ok heading out. See everyone tomorrow!"
"Ok Dad I'm heading out too. I have a few more errands to run and I'm going to stop and see Liv at the station to talk about some other things. See you tomorrow," Maureen said giving him a kiss. "Goodbye little guy." She kissed Noah and left.
After another hour went by and Olivia still wasn't home he decided to give her a call.
"Has it hit you yet?"
"Well clearly it has. I'm five months pregnant," she joked.
"Oh you are quite the comedian Lieutenant. Has it hit you that this will be one of the last times you answer your phone that way?"
"How much longer will you be?"
"Are you missing me or something Stabler?"
"More than you realize."
"I'm sorry this is taking so long but I promise when I'm done this place will not see me for at least a week."
"I'm going to hold you to that and if I have to throw that phone of yours in the ocean I will."
"There there. No need for the dramatics. It will happen. Just you, me and a solid week of being alone. Speaking of which, do you plan on giving me a clue where we will be spending this time alone?"
"None at all. Just be surprised."
There was a knock on the door and Dickie got up to answer it.
"Someone's at the door..again. I'll let you go. I'll see you soon, hopefully."
"Hello Mr. Cragen," Dickie said politely.
"Don, please. Call me Don. Nice to see you again Lucy," he said making his way into the living room.
"Hey Don, I wasn't expecting you," Elliot said bringing Noah to the living room so he could play on the floor.
"Yeah I just wanted to stop by for a few minutes and talk to you."
"Hey why don't me and Dickie take Noah to the park around the corner for a little bit?" Lucy suggested. She had a feeling that Don and Elliot needed to speak alone since Olivia often referred to her old boss as a father figure to her.
"Yeah sure. Thanks Lucy."
Once they walked out Elliot offered Don something to drink that he declined and motioned for him to sit with him at the table.
"What brings you by? Nervous about your important job tomorrow?"
"I'm not going to stay long I just wanted to talk to you alone. I figured tomorrow would be a bit hectic so I wouldn't have a chance to."
"You came at the right time. This is probably the only time all day that the house hasn't been full."
Don adjusted himself in the chair and paused for a moment preparing to speak.
"Elliot I never had children. Wanted them, came close but never had them. You and Olivia are the closest thing to children that I ever had. I know it was inappropriate to look at you guys that way when I was your boss but now that I'm not I figure it's ok," he said giving Elliot a tight smile.
"I watched that job do some crazy things to you both over the years. I hoped and prayed that neither one of you would end up like me. That you would've given so much of yourself to the job that you forget everything else. And I saw what was happening between the two of you. I saw that you two had fallen in love and didn't know how to deal with it. Olivia would be Olivia. She would never tell you and that's why I never fought her when she said she needed a new partner and when she ran. I know you wanted me to stop her but she needed to do what she needed to do."
Elliot nodded his understanding.
"And as for you," he said exhaling and Elliot smiled. "I knew you would hold on to your marriage with everything in you because that's you are. You try to do the right thing no matter how much it costs you and everyone around you. I just hoped that eventually you would realize that sometimes the right thing to do is just to let go. I kept quiet then and let things happen the way they did because it wasn't my place to say anything. Now I feel a little more comfortable giving a little fatherly advice."
"And what's that?"
"Ill say to you the same thing I said to her. Make sure you two always talk to each other, not at each other. You guys are going to continue to have obstacles and people who try to come between you. People you know and ones you don't. Never forget this," he said looking around, "is everything. She's trusted you with the most important thing to her, her son. I think he's one of the only reasons that after Lewis she didn't go down a similar destructive path you did after Kathleen. There's a lot of happiness around here but those demons are still there for both of you because of what you went through. Whenever they try to resurface and they will, just make sure you deal with them together. No matter what. Ok?"
"Ok. I will."
"There is no one better for Olivia than you. I've always thought that, even when I knew it wasn't right to think that way. You have managed to give her something she's always wanted. A family. I'm glad you guys found each other. Don't lose each other again. You guys were always better together than you ever were apart."
"We won't. I promise you. I can't imagine my life without her."
"Good. I won't keep you. I just wanted to say that."
"Thanks for coming by Don. I appreciate everything you have done for us over the years and thank you for agreeing to walk Olivia down the aisle. I know how much it means to her."
"Probably not nearly as much as it means to me."
Elliot saw him out and relaxed on the couch waiting on the kids to return with Noah. He surveyed the scene around him and took a few moments in the quiet of the apartment to himself. He hadn't had a moment alone in weeks it felt like with the wedding planning. As much as he enjoyed some quiet time every now and then to reflect he enjoyed the chaos much more. He glanced at the clock and saw it was 5:15pm. He couldn't help but think that in exactly 24 hours, he and Olivia would be married. It seemed so far away but yet so close.
Dickie and Lucy returned with Noah a short time later and the little boy was starting to grow restless since he hadn't had a nap all day. He tried to put him down for a bit before dinner that evening so he wouldn't be so cranky. He took him to the nursery and began to rock him in the rocking chair to try and coax him to sleep.
"You know what buddy? I'm glad you and I got a little time alone together before tomorrow. There's a couple of things I want to say to you and I know I won't have time during the adoption proceedings tomorrow." Noah watched him intently while his little eyes tried hard to stay awake.
"When I came back in your mom's life I knew about you already and just hoped that we could have some type of bond. I never expected to love you the way that I do and I certainly never expected you to love me back," he said softly kissing the boy's forehead. He was so wrapped up in his talk with Noah that he didn't hear Olivia come in the door. She heard him in the nursery and couldn't help but listen at the door at the moment between father and son.
"I love you Noah just as much as I love all of my children. As your father I want you to know that I'm going to always try to do right by you but I will mess it up every now and then. Your brothers and sisters can attest to that for sure but I promise you that anything I do for you or to you will always come from a place of love. My intentions are always the best even though I don't always show it. I kind of mess up with that sometimes but good thing is I have your mom to keep me in line. She's pretty good about that you know." Olivia smiled to herself at that comment.
"I promise you Noah that I will love and protect you at all costs. I will lay down my life for you if I had to and I promise you that I will always take care of you and be there for you no matter what," he said with a tear streaming down his cheek. Elliot played with his fingers as he drifted off to sleep. "Your brothers and sisters are going to be there for you too. They love you so much already. If mommy and daddy drive you crazy, which we will, you have them to lean on too. So I figure between a mom that's a cop, a dad that's a FBI special agent, aunts who are attorneys and doctors, uncles that are cops, and your brothers and sisters, I'm thinking that you are pretty set kiddo. You also have something else that not many people have. You have a big sister that's your guardian angel. She's going to watch over you too all the time."
Olivia wiped the tears from her eyes as she listened to Elliot get up to lay Noah in his crib.
"I love you Noah Porter Benson Stabler and I couldn't be more proud to be your daddy."